On Monday [February 22] three former students of San Jose State University faced convictions on battery charges, but avoided hate crime convictions after putting a bike lock around their Black roommate’s neck, trying to lock him in a closet and calling him “three-fifths of a person.”
Joseph “Brett” Bomgardner, 21 and Logan Beaschler and Colin Warren, both 20, were all convicted of misdemeanor battery. The jury that included six men and six women were deadlocked on the hate crime charges.
The attacks took place in 2013 when the three took then 17-year old freshman Donald Williams, and forced him to wear a U-shaped bike lock around his neck. In a separate incident the three assailants attempted to lock Williams in a closet.
The attacks only came to light when Williams’ parents came to visit the dorm and noticed a Confederate flag on the wall as well as “three-fifths” written on a nearby white board.
Attorneys for the defendants claim the abuse was merely an “immature prank war” that went too far. However, former Judge LaDoris Cordell, head of the university’s task force on racial discrimination, had something else to say about the incidents.
“I am saddened that 12 jurors could not agree that calling a black male ‘Three-fifths’ or ‘Fraction,’ or forcing a lock around his neck, or creating an environment promoting racism with Confederate memorabilia, or hearing how this young man was humiliated, amounted to a hate crime,” Cordell told Mercury News. “This verdict demonstrates that we are a long way from living in a post-racist America.”